Renewable Energy Machines

What is it?

The Renewable Energy Machines thread trains students on the energy production, conversion, storage, and transmission technologies that produce little to no CO2 or greenhouse emissions.

What will I learn?

Every nation on earth except one recently affirmed their willingness to decrease CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, recognizing the issues and challenges facing the creation of a new, ultra-clean baseload energy generation system for developed and developing nations. The Renewable Energy Machines thread will prepare students to fully participate and lead in the creation of the world’s truly low-carbon grids and systems. Students will receive a solid foundation in the technical, economic, and societal aspects of low-carbon energy generation and distribution.

N.B.:

  • All students completing the Renewable Energy Machines thread will automatically earn an MIT Energy Studies minor.
  • This thread was redesigned in 2018-19 to replace the Clean Energy Systems thread.

What is this thread’s “new machine and system?”

Renewable energy machines include any sources of energy storage, conversion, transmission, and production which produce little to no CO2 or greenhouse emissions, and at best actually reduce them. This includes wind, solar, hydropower, nuclear fission & fusion, electric vehicles, gas with carbon sequestration, the hydrogen economy (fuel cells), and grid-scale energy storage. It does not include the end-users of electricity or anything to do with the final load on the system.

Who do I talk to?

For more information about the Renewable Energy Machines thread, please contact:

  • Michael Short, founding faculty co-lead and associate professor of nuclear science and engineering: hereiam@mit.edu
  • Saurabh Amin, current faculty co-lead and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering: amins@mit.edu
  • Oral Buyukozturk, founding faculty co-lead (on sabbatical) and professor of civil and environmental engineering: obuyuk@mit.edu
  • William Tisdale, associate professor of chemical engineering: tisdale@mit.edu
NEET Students

Academics

In the Renewable Energy Machines thread, all majors are welcome — participating students will earn a degree in whichever major they have already selected or are planning to select. All participants will also automatically earn a minor in Energy Studies. Core requirements, sample subject selections, and suggested electives are listed below, but we encourage interested students to contact one of the thread’s faculty leads for class selection and advising.

Core requirements for this thread include projects, seminars, and foundation subjects.

Projects

The project subjects in Renewable Energy Machines are:

  • Sophomore Fall: 3.007 Introduction to Materials and Mechanical Design (6 units). Focuses on hands-on experience with characterization techniques, instrumentation, design thinking and optimizing solutions within design constraints. Applied to ideas relevant to materials science and mechanical engineering. Includes introductions to modern, rapid prototyping and characterization tools in the context of a design problem, followed by discovery-based labs illustrating manufacturing concepts. Culminates in a student-directed making experience (6 units).
  • Sophomore spring: 22.071(12 units). Building projects involving solar cells, batteries, fuel cells, biofuels, and micro-heat engines. Explores opportunities and challenges to mixing sources. “Energy” design competition (centered around generation and energy sources).
  • Junior Spring: Large-scale design-build-test of complete energy system (Subject TBA, 12 units) or a SuperUROP in energy.
  • Senior Fall: Renewable energy design competition where students identify and solve a global-scale, clean energy challenge (Subject TBA, 12 units).

Seminars

Seminars are built into the projects listed above; there are no separate seminar subjects.

Foundation Subjects

15.2191[J]/14.44[J] and 14.01 are vital to appreciating the socio-economics of large-scale energy systems, so that students approach all their projects from more than a purely technical perspective.

There are 2-3 slots in the sophomore year for students to take coursework in their intended majors. We suggest 1.102 (CEE), 2.005 (NSE/MechE),  2.001 and 2.007 (Mech E), 8.03 and 8.04 (Physics), and a slot in spring for students to start their area concentrations.

Sample Subject Selection

Sophomore fall:

Sophomore IAP:

Sophomore spring:

Want to go further?

Some suggested electives (these are not required, and are not part of the core requirements for this thread):

Please note that the classes listed above may change depending on departmental requirements.

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